Roughly Half of Android Users Won't Get Facebook Home due to Fragmentation
During the unveiling of Facebook Home, Mark Zuckerberg said that the “openness” of Google’s Android platform is what made the Home experience possible. What wasn’t mentioned was the fact that due to the fragmented nature of the Android market, nearly half of all Android users won’t even be able to run its new Home feature to begin with.
Facebook Home won’t run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread or lower, a fact which was revealed in a question-and-answer session following Home’s unveiling. Gingerbread, which was initially released in February of 2011, is still the Android version for roughly 40% of the Android install base according to Google’s most recent figures. Roughly 7% run an even older version of the operating system.
The other roughly 53% of Android devices running either version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or versions 4.1 and 4.2 Jelly Bean will supposedly be able to run Facebook Home but not until sometime after its launch. Zuckerberg pointed out both during and after the Home presentation that the launch will be reserved to six devices initially which include: the HTC One and One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, S4, Note II, and the recently revealed HTC First, which is said to be optimized for the Facebook home experience. It was also mentioned that the launcher won’t be available for Android tablets until sometime after its launch as well.
Facebook Home was said to better suited for Google since Apple controls both the hardware and software underlying its iOS devices, therefore having a much smaller set of configurations to develop for. Unfortunately, Google makes Android available to a wide array of manufacturers and some of them are diligent in updating their devices to recent versions of Android but a large number aren’t. Due to either technical limitations or fiscal infeasibility, hundreds of millions of Android devices are running a now two-year outdated version of the operating system.
This fragmentation among the Android install base has proved to be a significant problem for Android developers as they have to program their apps not only to account for a vast array of hardware configurations but also to account for 40% of their potential audience using a two year old operating system. Google has taken some steps to address the fragmentation issue but the issue remains at large. In the meantime, Facebook Home seems like it would be very limited.